A significant adjustment was made to the opening UFC event of 2023 on Monday. Because Kelvin Gastelum was unable to attend the card due to a mouth injury, UFC Vegas 67 has sacrificed one-half of the main event.
Sean Strickland reportedly offered to compete in his replacement versus Nassourdine Imavov on Saturday in Las Vegas as a consequence. The fight will continue to run five rounds however now will be fought at light heavyweight, which was previously scheduled at middleweight.
In response to reports, a dejected Gastelum wrote a post on Twitter in which he said sorry to all concerned individuals.
“I’m extremely disappointed, to say the least,” Gastelum wrote. “This not how I wanted to start 2023. I worked my ass off & battled through a lot of adversary and was ready to put on a hell of a show this weekend. I apologize to Imavov, his camp as well as @ufc and all the fans.”
Strickland wants to turn things around after losing by a razor-thin decision against Jared Cannonier in the main event at UFC Fight Night 216 in December. As a result of being beaten out by current UFC middleweight champion Alex Pereira in July, he is currently on a two-fight losing skid. Strickland was riding a six-fight winning streak before the two losses.
Imavov has won three straight matches. The 25-year-old Dagestan-born athlete with a base in France defeated compatriot potential Edmen Shahbazyan in the second round at UFC 268 in November after beating Heinisch in July. Joaquin Buckley was most recently thrashed by Imavov at UFC Fight Night 209 in September. When he takes on Strickland on Saturday, he hopes to extend his existing three-fight undefeated streak.
Gastelum was forced to sit out the whole of 2022 because of several injuries that prevented him from competing, so the bout change is terrible news for him. The most recent encounter for the former interim middleweight title challenger in the UFC occurred in 2021, a loss to Jared Cannonier by unanimous decision. In his last six fights, Gastelum has underperformed consistently with a 1-5 record.